What The Show Was Like
This video consists of 35 minutes of dance performances to
New Age and techno music by the New York dancer Neon using assorted
props. Although structured as a continuous stream of dancing,
eight chapter settings allow jumping directly to certain logical
transition points. The titles of most of the segments follow
an astronomical theme: "Arrival of the Celestial Object,"
"Meteorite Shower," etc.
Neon's artistic video production ideas are just as much on
display as her dance style. She uses some special effects in
various spots throughout. For example, periodically the scene
would shift to a montage of assorted images: Neon lying on the
ground in costume with a sheer veil draped over her, a close-up
of a candle flame, a close-up of a tray of flowers, etc. Unlike
the annoying random special effects in other belly dance videos
I've seen, Neon's work is that of an artist who has integrated
dance with other visual elements to create a unified montage
of dance and imagery. In most cases, I find the result appealing,
but a few spots make me scratch my head.
Selecting "Play" from the top menu opens the performance
with, "Arrival of the Celestial Object." Neon dances
with a tray of lit candles balanced on her head. Her image as
a dancer is superimposed over an ever-changing background, sometimes
of stars, sometimes of mathematics equations, sometimes of a
close-up image of herself. Usually, I find such special effects
annoying, but on this video I find it instead to be artistically
appealing. I think the key to why I appreciate it here is that
the dancing itself is always easy to see, and the special effect
usually complements the dancing rather than interfering with
it. This same 6-minute segment also appears on Neon's instructional
video Belly Dance Party.
"Arrival" transitions smoothly into the chapters
that follow, "Tidal Pull", "Meteorite Shower",
"Interstellar Safari", "Orbital Eccentricity",
and "Granddaughter of a Russian Missile Designer".
Each of these sections has a dominant theme, but artistic montages
and images appear throughout. The video's design can best be
seen by viewing it straight through from beginning to end, rather
than watching a chapter at a time. Prop effects include:
- Wing-like swallowtail pleated organza "sleeves"
attached at the neck and wrist.
- A tray holding many candles balanced on Neon's head with
a sheer veil draped over her face. She removes the veil while
- An elaborate shamadan (Egyptian-style candelabrum) on Neon's
head. Two on-screen images of her are each doing the same choreography
(sometimes as mirror images) but yet are subtly different from
each other. The effect resembles a pair of identical twins dancing
a duet together - at times in unison, at times doing different
moves that complement each other.
- An almost propless segment.
- A candle tray balanced on Neon's head as she holds wings
of Isis in her hands. The constraint of having flaming candles
on her head limits what Neon is able to do with the wings. She
uses them mostly as a frame for her hip and torso moves.
- A shamadan (candelabrum) used with Isis wings. Later, Neon
dances with only the wings. Again, rather than doing extensive
spinning with assorted wing tricks she uses them mostly as a
frame for the moves her body is doing.
- A tray heaped in beautiful flowers balanced on Neon's head.
The final performance segment titled "Stellar Nebula
Hypothesis" is a 4 1/2 minute dance featuring another tray
of candles. This music has a strong techno flavor, with some
sounds of nature such as gurgling water and chirping bird calls
incorporated into it. This same performance segment with some
minor editing differences at the beginning and end appears as
an extra on Neon's instructional video Instant Belly Dancer:
Generally speaking, Neon's style as a dancer is theatricalized
American style, with more athleticism, torso undulations, and
expressive arms than would be seen in Egyptian dance. She does
many movements that most dancers would find challenging even
without any props such as deep standing backbends, and yet everything
is so well isolated that she appears to be at ease doing those
difficult moves with flames or flowers balanced on her head.
All of her dancing with these props lies in the medium-to-fast
range of speed, which makes her isolation and ability to balance
them even more impressive. She does very little shimmying. The
emphasis instead is on large, dramatic fluid movements. I would
expect her style would particularly appeal to the younger, hip,
The music is too repetitive for my taste. It consists of a
medley of assorted New Age and techno songs that transition seamlessly
from one to another. Each by itself is pretty, but all seem to
be of similar speed, rhythm, energy level, instrumentation, and
style. This unchanging collection of music leads to similar lack
of variety in Neon's interpretation of it in her dance. Sometimes
she balances a prop and sometimes not, but whether or not there
is a prop on her head she does mostly the same moves throughout.
Because neither the music itself nor Neon's interpretation changes
much over the course of the 35 minutes, after a while it starts
to feel like "more of the same" even with the variation
in props. The video would have been stronger with more variation
in musical and dance styles.
The production quality is superb. The lighting makes it easy
to see the dancer at all times, and the sound quality is excellent.
I normally become rather annoyed with special effects on videos;
however, as I mentioned above this is one of the rare exceptions
where the effects enhance the overall presentation for me rather
than detracting from it. Neon's use of effects offers an artistic
flavor without preventing me from seeing the dance itself. The
camera angles change often enough to provide variety, but not
excessively often, and they always allow me to see the dancing.
You Will Probably Like This Video If
- You are intrigued by dancers who balance challenging items
such as trays of candles on their heads.
- You want to learn how to balance a tray, and you'd like to
see what type of dancing someone else has done with one.
- You would be interested in seeing some examples of special
effects done with an artistic vision rather than randomly jumbled.
- You enjoy fusion interpretations of belly dance.
You Probably Won't Care For This Video If
- You believe belly dancing should be done only to Arabic music.
- You prefer to see only Egyptian or Lebanese style, no fusion.
- You are looking for performances featuring authentic Egyptian-style
uses of shamadan (candelabrum).
- You think techno and New Age music are too monotonous to
be suitable for use in dance performances.
This video is best suited to viewers who enjoy a fusion approach
to belly dancing, using alternative music and incorporating assorted
props. People who prefer Egyptian style music and interpretation
probably won't care for it. The New Age and techno performances
are a perfect complement to Neon's instructional series designed
for party-goers who want to use belly dance moves in their social
dancing, so I can readily understand why she used segments from
this performance on those videos. For the rest of us, the video
would have been stronger with more variety in music and dance
moves from one piece to the next.
This video is the best fit for viewers who would appreciate
a work that combines dance with other elements to create visual
art, rather than those seeking a typical belly dance performance